So, you suddenly find yourself the parent of a high school senior? I know you have lots of questions like, "How did this happen so fast?" Some other stressful questions revolve around the fact that so much happens during a student's senior year of high school. There are things like making sure that graduation requirements will be met, scheduling and taking the ACT/SAT, exploring possible universities or programs, ordering the cap and gown, preparing for Senior Night of whatever sport(s) they may be involved in, gathering pictures and memorabilia to display at the graduation party, planning the graduation party, applying for scholarships and student loans, and don't even get me started on the FAFSA! There are some very big decisions to make, too.
The purpose of this blog post is not to add to your level of anxiety by condensing a year's worth of work into one sentence. Instead, I would like to make your life easier by answering questions and offering solutions to one of the fun endeavors characteristic of senior year. I am talking about Senior Pictures, and helping you to see that this aspect is not a cause for concern, but rather something to get excited about.
Question #1: Very often, the first question that pops into one's mind is, "How are we going to find time for this?"
Well, my flexible scheduling will make it possible. We can always find a way! A senior portrait session with Laura Esposito Photography will be scheduled to start two hours before the sunset time of that particular day. This is the optimal time of day for lighting based of the lower angle of the sun. Obviously, because we live in the northern hemisphere, that start time will be later in the summer and progressively get earlier as we move through fall. Seniors and their parents often have work schedules that need to be accommodated. Very often, the senior is involved in sports, band, dance, theater, 4-H, or some other activity that requires consideration. We just need to find one evening that can be designated for a portrait session. I have found that most coaches/leaders are very understanding if seniors need to leave a little early to get ready for their portrait session. Some seniors who are involved in fall sports will even postpone their portrait session until the spring. I hold many sessions in April and May. Be aware that we typically continue to take portraits until the sun sets. Once we start having fun, I just can't stop until the darkness ends the session for me.
Question #2: "How much is this going to cost?"
I will be the first to agree that having a high school senior is very expensive. I obviously feel strongly about the importance of getting high quality professional portraits, but I also understand that this is one of many expenses draining your bank account at this time. My senior portrait session investment is $350 and that covers me taking the portraits at a location of your choice within Stark County, unlimited wardrobe changes and props, editing all portraits with touch-ups as needed, and making them available to you in your own gallery on my website.
From this gallery, you can browse, share, order and download portraits. Prints and wall art can be ordered from this gallery and will be shipped directly to you. The gallery will remain available to you for years to come, so there is no need to feel rushed, or to order everything you want all at once. You can even share this gallery link with family and friends so that they can place their own orders independently. Portrait downloads from the gallery are lower resolution files that are fine for social media posts. Full resolution files are available for purchase on a flash drive with a copyright release for an upgrade of $100.
Prints and wall art come from a professional print lab and you order only what you want. There are no packages that require you to spend a specified amount and you are not limited with the number of poses to choose from. You can space out your session investment and print investment so that you are not paying the entire amount at once. You could hold the session in the summer and then wait to buy prints in the spring when it is closer to graduation. To give you an idea about your expected investment in the actual prints, see the list of current print prices below. This is just a list of the most commonly purchased items. Many other sizes and products are available in the shop on my website. *Note that these prices are accurate as of July 31, 2018 and are subject to change by the print lab.
Print prices as of 7-31-18Subject to change
Question #3: "How many portraits will we get to choose from?"
Oh boy! That is a very difficult question. It really varies depending on the senior and how efficiently we work through the session. The smallest galleries contain about 60 portraits and some ended up having over 200 portraits. Sometimes, it is a matter of how many activities they want to include, the number of different facial expressions they give me, and if I end up creating several versions of the same portrait. Some seniors and their parents prefer to have fewer to pick from and others want many. I will warn you that most parents and seniors say that choosing which ones to buy is truly the hardest part because they want all of them.
Vivemasblog: Dealing with Choice Overload<a href="https://vivemasblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/dealing-with-choice-overload/" target="_self">https://vivemasblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/dealing-with-choice-overload/</a>
Question #4: "Can we get some portraits in black and white?"
Absolutely! My typical workflow is that I will edit all color versions of the portraits first. You will see these show up in your gallery first. Then, I go back to the beginning and look very critically at each portrait to decide if there is any other variation that would be a good fit for that particular portrait. If I feel that it makes a strong black and white image, then I will include that version in the gallery. Sometimes, I will use some different effects like desaturation with high contrast to make it more "moody," or I will use an antique effect to give it a timeless feel. The personality of the senior and the setting of the portrait often dictate what effect will be most effective.
Question #5: "What is the turn-around time for this process?"
Once we have held the portrait session, it typically takes me 3-7 business days to complete the editing process and make the portraits available to you in your gallery on my website. I am very meticulous with the editing and only want to deliver the best portraits in your gallery. Print orders typically take about 4 business days to arrive in your mailbox. This could be longer over holidays, during high-volume times, or for products like canvases and metals. So, if you were to place an order for prints as soon as I have your gallery created on my website, best case scenario would be that you could have prints in your hand as early as one week after the portrait session; worst case would be about two weeks. This is why holding a portrait session in April or May is an option.
Question #6: "So, what do people typically do with these pictures, anyway?"
They cherish them! They cherish them because they document all that is so special about your senior at this unique time in their lives. This is such a huge milestone as we think of them as officially becoming adults and making big decisions for themselves.
Beyond the sentimental answer, many families buy prints or wall art to display proudly on a mantle or wall. Some choose to order prints to use as gifts for grandparents at Christmas. Many families are using the portraits to create the beautiful graduation announcements and party invitations that they mail to family and friends. I do offer that service of designing those announcements as an optional upgrade. The prints are often used in scrapbooking to create something to display at the graduation party. Others choose to create a book with their favorite portraits. I have even had families have the giant wall clings or posters made.
We have found that many scholarship or award applications require that a portrait be attached. Some seniors are even working on their LinkedIn Profile and having a professional portrait to use as a profile picture certainly adds to their credibility.
Question #7: "What about a Senior Portrait for use in the yearbook?"
Oh yeah! I left that out above, didn't I? Some high schools require that you make an appointment with a specific photographer(s) for your headshot so that all of the senior portraits in the yearbook are uniform with the same background and proportions. Others will allow you to acquire this portrait from a photographer of your choice, but they have precise guidelines that must be followed. Be sure to find out what is expected from your high school.
Typically, if you are required to get your yearbook shot from a specified photographer, there is no charge for getting the picture taken. You have the option to buy that portrait. You are then free to get your other senior portraits from a photographer of your choice. (Hopefully me!)
If your high school requires that you submit a portrait from your own personal session for the yearbook, please be sure to provide me with a copy of the provisions and requirements so that I can be sure to follow their guidelines.
Question #8: "What if my Senior hates getting his/her picture taken?"
Then you have come to the right photographer! My motto is "Keep it simple. Make it fun." The reluctant senior is one of my specialties. I can usually win them over rather quickly by showing them the back of the camera after a series of "clicks." Once they see how amazing they look in the portraits, they are hooked. I have developed some tricks over the past ten years that help to relax the situation and deliver some great portraits. One of my very kind parents had the following to say:
My daughter hates having her picture taken but had so much fun and was very relaxed with Laura. Her pictures turned out beautiful. -CB
Question #9: "How do we find each other the night of the session and how do I pay?"
I will be in touch with you to confirm everything a day or so before the session. Then, we meet in the parking lot of whatever location we have chosen. I will be the short lady running around with a big camera. Ha ha! I also suggest that you have my cell number programed in your phone in case you need to text or call while en route. (330) 704-6473
You can pay by cash, by a check payable to Laura Esposito Photography, or by credit card. If you choose to pay by credit card, there is a 3% convenience fee that will be added. You can also pay by credit card from home prior to the session if you prefer.
Once we find each other, I will want to take a look at the outfits and/or props that you have brought. We will talk about your vision for the portrait session and discuss any special request. I will come up with a plan for the order in which we will use each outfit/prop with regard to location and lighting. Then, we will get started!
Question #10: "Should I, the parent, follow you and my senior around?"
Ideally, yes. There are several reasons I like having you there. One is that you can help notice things like a folded hem, a hair out of place, a cell phone outlined in a pocket, etc. I also like that you can typically help to think of things to say to elicit a genuine laugh or smile. Occasionally, I may ask you to hold a reflector to bounce some light back into a shot. Quite often, the parents are carrying along props or the next change of clothing.
Once in a great while, I will find that the presence of a parent is actually making the senior more nervous or self-conscious. It could be that there was a disagreement of some sort in the car on the way to the session and they are just not ready to let it go. Sometimes, they just feel embarrassed for anyone to see them posing. Whatever the reason may be, I try to create the environment that is most comfortable for my senior so that their portraits are relaxed and genuine.
Question #11: "So, what if I don't like the way they are smiling?"
Please speak up and let me know. I will find a way to fix this.
I prefer that you not tell your Senior that they aren't doing it right. Remember, it can be very uncomfortable to be front of a camera and expected to suddenly have the qualities of a model. Maybe just let me know that the smile is not looking natural. I will try to catch them off guard with a question or comment to elicit a genuine smile. Then, I like to show the Senior and parents the back of my camera and I always ask what smile they like better. Then, it becomes their preference rather than creating a sense that they are doing something wrong. We are building success and confidence which results in the best portraits.
Question #12: "Can we bring extra props and things that are important to my Senior?"
YES, YES and YES! This is their CUSTOM portrait session and that means that it needs to be uniquely theirs. I have included dogs, cows, horses, pigs, tractors, cars, trucks, fire trucks, dirt bikes, four wheelers, boats, guns, bows, tree stands, snow boards, welding machines, trumpets, violins, drums, marimba, cymbals, guitars, flutes, clarinets, pianos, bassoons, playing cards, bathrobes, and items related to dance, volleyball, baseball, football, tennis, soccer, golf, lacrosse, track, wrestling, martial arts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H and FFA. Basically, anything that helps to tell their story is welcome.
Question #13: "What if we can't agree on outfits?"
Bring something that makes you happy and something that makes them happy. This portrait session is really for both of you. I know that you want beautiful portraits that represent this amazing young person you have loved and cared for all of these years. So, you will want portraits of them wearing what you feel complements them best. Your Senior may have a slightly different side that they want to show. They may want something a little edgier or dramatic. That is fine. There is time in the session to allow for both "flavors" of them to shine. You may be surprised to find that you actually like what they picked out, and they may end up liking what you suggested, too. It is really fun to be able to show some variety, because that is what makes them complete and interesting.
Question #14: "What if we happen to wake up that day to a face full of blemishes?"
No worries! It happens to the best of us. That is part of my meticulous editing procedure. I am able to clear up blemishes better than any medication your dermatologist will prescribe. You just smile and let me take care of the rest.
Question #15: "What if it rains the day of our portrait session?"
Weather is certainly a factor that plays a role in our success. Please understand that we do not need blue skies for a successful portrait session. As a matter of fact, an overcast day is fabulous because a layer of clouds over the sun is the best light diffuser you can find. Whether it is clear and sunny or cloudy, we will get great portraits. I know how to adjust my camera settings and change my approach.
Rain is not something that we can work into the equation unless we happen to have access to lots of sheltered areas, and that is not likely. I purposely leave some breathing room in my calendar to allow for rescheduling. I will be in touch with you leading up to the session as we assess the weather report. If rain is certain, we will find another evening that we can agree upon. If rain is a possibility, we will determine your comfort level with "giving it a try" and go from there.
Question #16: "How do I keep from being overcome with emotion during the session?"
Hey, I get it! Watching your child go through all of the rites of passage related to leaving high school and going off to college or the military or whatever their future holds is heart-wrenching. This Senior Portrait Session is a celebration of your Senior. They get to be in the spotlight and it is really all about them at the moment. Enjoy this with them. Be thankful that you get to share this moment with them and join in the fun. The evening should be filled with laughter and "ooh's" and "ahh's" as we capture these treasured portraits. It is good for them to see you swell with pride and show how much you love them. This really is a fun family affair.
Question #17: "What if I can't decide and want every portrait?"
This is actually the most common problem among my Senior Portrait Clients. They love every portrait and can't decide what to get. There are several ways to tackle this issue. Many parents will order a small print of each portrait so that they can have them in front of their eyes for a while before deciding on what they want in a larger print for display. Some families will narrow it down to five or six portraits and order them in various sizes to make a wall grouping. Others will commission me to create a collage for them that includes their favorite shots. Another approach is to order several portraits in various sizes and then display them in many locations throughout the home. Remember that you have canvases and metal wall art to consider. Talk about taking the portraits to another level!
Question #18: "Can I share these on social media?"
Certainly! I will be sharing my personal favorites on my Laura Esposito Photography Facebook Page and on Instagram. You can share them from my page onto yours. Or, you can download social media resolution files from the gallery on my website and post them yourself. I would just really appreciate it if you could tag me as the photographer. The contract does state that you may not further edit the portraits that you download. So, adding filters or making your own color adjustments is not permitted by copyright.
Question #19: "What other services do you offer?"
Once we have your portrait gallery, a variety of other services become available to you. Upon request, I create photo montages and collages. I can work with you to custom design your graduation and party announcements so that they feature your favorite portrait(s). I can create custom memory books and more.
Question #20: "What if I still have lots of questions along the way?"
No problem. The more questions you ask, the better prepared you will be for the session. I am happy to answer your questions by email (email@example.com), Facebook Message, text or call (330) 704-6473. I understand that you may have never experienced the process of preparing for a senior portrait session. I have been through this many times. So, you will certainly have questions and I will do my best to have the answers for you. Click the image below for a link to a series of blog posts that have helpful information specific to preparing for the Senior Portrait Session:
I wish I could help to relieve all of your anxieties and concerns that come with navigating a busy senior year of high school. Just know that when it comes to senior portraits, I've got you covered! Plan to have lots of fun with this, because I certainly do. I can't wait to meet you, plan your session, and create some amazing portraits.
You make the memories; I will help you cherish them.
Love and smiles,